Want to know what foods boost your energy levels? Read on to discover some easy habits to help you eat healthier.

Skyrocket your energy with these healthy eating habits

Aug 9, 2022

 Do you ever feel like you're always dragging yourself through the day?

You know what I mean – you're tired, you have no energy, and those feelings are starting to affect your work. You feel like your brain is slogging along through the motions of each task, rather than actively doing them.

We all need energy in order to be at our best. And if we don't get enough of it, we start to feel sluggish and tired. That's why it's so important to make sure you're eating healthy foods that will give you a boost of energy throughout the day.

Here are 14 tips for how to do just that:

Eat breakfast

I'm sure I'm not the first person to tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But, there's a good reason you've heard it before.

Studies suggest that making a habit of eating breakfast every day can help your body absorb more of the good stuff: nutrients, vitamins and minerals - and lower the average number of calories, carbs, fat and sugar that you consume during the rest of the day.

Watch your portions

How many times have you said to yourself: "just one more bite"?

Yeah, me too!

But research shows that most people will almost always finish off their plate of food. So, controlling portion sizes can seriously help to prevent overindulging.

One way to do this is by using your plate as a guide:

  • ½ plate of vegetables

  • ¼ plate protein

  • ¼ plate carbohydrates

  • Finish with fat

If you cook a pot of something, serve it on a plate instead of putting the whole pot on the table - definitely tough at Thanksgiving!

Another thing you can do is to take your time at the dining table. Start with a glass of water, chew your food thoroughly and focus on the texture and how it tastes.

And on that note…

Turn off the TV, put away your laptop, mute your phone

One of the absolute worst things you can do while eating (yet most people almost always do) is to eat in front of the TV. When you do that, you're completely distracted from the food on your plate, you eat much faster and as a result, you miss the signals from your body that tell you, "you've had enough, it’s time to put the fork down!"

Instead of the TV or your laptop, try sitting at a window and watching the world go by as you eat your meals.

Eat whole foods to avoid processed sugars and flours.

Processed grains (like most pasta and white bread is made from) are high-carbohydrate foods that can cause your blood sugar levels to spike, leading to increased hunger and cravings.

On top of that, refined flour doesn't provide the same satiating effect as whole wheat pasta. As a result, you're likely to eat more if you're eating processed grains on a regular basis.

Whole grains, like rye, oatmeal and buckwheat, on the other hand, are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. They promote healthy digestion and reduce the risk of strokes, heart disease, obesity and give you a lot of energy throughout the day.

Here are a couple of ways to get more wholegrains in your diet:

  • switch out your morning toast for a bowl of porridge or oatmeal

  • swap white rice for brown rice

  • use wholegrain flours if your making pizza or cookies

  • snack on air-popped popcorn next time you have the munchies

Limit sugary drinks

There's nothing like a sweet drink to wake you up, but did you know that the sugar in your morning coffee and afternoon soda could actually be making you more tired?

The reason for this is simple: sugar doesn't give you energy—it gives you a high, followed by a crash. Instead of giving you a quick boost and then letting your energy levels return to their normal state, sugary drinks leave you feeling like you're running on fumes all day long. This is especially true if you drink them regularly.

If you're having trouble getting through the day without caffeine or other stimulants, try cutting out sugary drinks for a week or two and see how much better you feel!

Sugar in general is bad news because it's hiding in so many foods. It’s not just the obvious ones like soda, candy and ice cream, but also things like bread, pasta sauce and salad dressing. You may be surprised at how much sugar can be hiding in your favorite foods!

The label doesn't always tell you how much actual sugar is in a food product. For example, if a label says “no added sugars” it doesn't mean there are no sugars in the food at all! It just means that no additional sugars were added during processing or packaging (i.e., brown rice syrup or honey).

Of course, you can still enjoy foods containing natural sugars in moderation because they're usually much healthier choices than those containing added sugars.

To cut back on hidden sugars in your diet, make a habit of reading nutrition labels carefully - look for words ending in -ose (sucrose, glucose etc.) or high-fructose syrup.

Replace candy with fruit

If you're a candy lover, it's time to make a change. Fruit is a healthy alternative that can help you get the energy you need to power through your day.

Here's why:

-Fruit has fiber, which helps keep your digestive system running smoothly. Candy doesn't have any fiber at all!

-Fruit is packed with vitamins and minerals that help keep your body healthy. Candy has none of these things.

-Fruit also contains antioxidants that help fight free radicals in your body, which can cause cancer and other diseases. Candy has none of these antioxidants.

So instead of reaching for candy bars when you need an energy boost, grab an apple or banana instead. You'll feel better about yourself when you do this small act of self-care and good nutrition every day.

Eat plenty of fiber

The reason you should eat lots of fiber is that it makes you feel like a rock star. I know, right? Who knew eating healthily could be so much fun?

But seriously, we're talking about the physical benefits here. You see, fiber helps you digest food and absorb nutrients in your body. It also helps prevent constipation and hemorrhoids, which are both unpleasant experiences (and no one wants to go through either of those).

And if you're worried about how you'll get enough fiber when you're on the go— don't! There are plenty of ways to sneak it into your diet without having to make any major changes or sacrifices. For example:

-Eat whole wheat bread instead of white bread

-Have a salad with some beans instead of meat

-Snack on nuts instead of chips

It's really not as hard as you might think! And once you start feeling better physically, I promise that it will be easier for you to make these changes for good.

Add some more veggies

It's no secret that a diet rich in vegetables is a great way to boost your energy.

Vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals that are essential for energy—especially vitamin C and magnesium. Vegetables also contain fiber and antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation in your body and lower your risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease or diabetes. And eating more vegetables can even improve your mood!

And what about salad? A salad is a pretty quick, portable meal that you can pack full with all kinds of veggies, and it's also easy on your wallet! It's the perfect meal for busy people who want to make healthy choices without spending a ton.

And there are so many different kinds of salads out there! If you're not sure where to start, try adding some cucumbers or lettuce into your next batch of tuna salad.

Or how about some bell peppers? They're super versatile—you can use them in everything from tacos to stir-fry to soup!

And don't forget about those leafy greens. Spinach is another great choice: It's full of vitamins A, C, E and K as well as iron and calcium (plus plenty more). And kale has been called "the most nutrient-dense food on earth." You can't go wrong with either one!

Plan your meals

It's easy to be tempted by the delicious, unhealthy foods that are always within reach. But if you're serious about feeling great and staying active, meal planning is a crucial habit you need to incorporate into your routine.

Here are some reasons why meal planning is so important:

1) Helps you stick to a budget. If you don't plan out your meals in advance, it's easy to go over budget when you're at the grocery store buying convenience items or ordering takeout.

2) Make sure you're getting enough nutrients and fiber every day. You know how sometimes you'll forget to eat something important? Meal planning helps prevent those slip-ups by making sure every meal has all of the right ingredients in it—you won't forget anything!

3) Makes eating healthy food easier (and tastier). Having a few go-to meals on hand makes it much easier to eat well when life gets busy—and with a little creativity, even boring leftovers can become exciting new dishes!

Add a little spice to your life

Most Americans eat way too much salt. Salt contains sodium and in the US we consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day and the guidelines recommend no more than 2,300 mg per day.

Why is sodium so bad? Well, sodium isn't all bad - it plays a vital role in many of your body's functions. But an excess of sodium in your diet can cause increased risk of developing high blood pressure, which is a major cause of stroke and heart disease.

A really great way to reduce your salt (and sodium) intake is to replace additional salt with other herbs and spices in your cooking. You'll be much healthier and won't compromise the flavor of your food.

How to change your eating habits (and stick to them)

For a detailed road map on changing your habit, you should definitely check out my complete guide to accomplishing your goals. But to get you started here are 5 simple tips for changing your eating habits (and sticking to them).

Connect your healthy eating to another habit. 

Habit stacking is a great way to make sure you stick to new habits.

Focus on one habit at a time. 

It can be tempting to want to make gigantic, sweeping lifestyle changes, but choosing one thing at a time to focus on will increase your chances of sticking to it.

Be realistic about the timeline and create some space. 

It takes a while for a new habit to develop. You need to consider what other commitments you have in your life right now - what else is going on that could get in the way?

Know your cues. 

All habits are formed based on a cycle or habit loop process. An important part of that process is the cue or trigger for the habit. 

When you learn to identify the things that trigger your existing habits, you get a powerful tool for replacing old habits with new ones that create momentum in your life.

Don’t be hard on yourself.

If you fall off the wagon from time to time - go easy on yourself. Nobody’s perfect. The most important thing is that you acknowledge your failure, learn from it, and get back up and try again.

Final Thoughts

Now, I'm not saying that it's time to cut all of your favorites from your healthy eating habits. And until you really know yourself, try to incorporate a few of these healthy eating habits into your routine. That said, the next time you find yourself experiencing that mid-afternoon slump, consider what you've eaten that day. Your body will thank you for it later.

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Will Moore is a gamification, habits and happiness expert.

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